When Boring is a Good Thing

Our American society celebrates, appreciates and rewards the bold and visibly successful. President Trump rose from real estate developer’s son to reality television star to President, in no small part due to his outspoken personality and flamboyant lifestyle that flies in the face of the boring politician stereotype.  Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic airlines, and Mark Cuban, investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, are frequently in the news because the media knows their exuberant personalities and visible wealth appeal to many people. We don’t like settling for average, another word for… [read more]
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How to Avoid Running an Illegal Casino in Your Home

College Admissions Counselor: “You don’t have enough money.” Father of incoming Freshman daughter, Alex: “It says right here we have $401,000. You missed it!” Mother of Alex: “Jackpot!” Counselor: “Uh, that says you have a 401k account.” Later at home Mother: “Alex thinks we can afford tuition and we can’t.  What are we going to do?” Father: “We’ve got to lie.  That’s what parents do.  Because otherwise the kids are going to realize that we don’t know what we’re doing!” These few exchanges give the basis for the plot of the soon to be… [read more]
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Rebuilding After Madoff

On Saturday, May 20th, HBO released its new film, The Wizard of Lies, which depicts the events leading up to and following the arrest of Bernie Madoff.  While it does a reasonable job explaining how Madoff ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, its core storyline is about the type of person Madoff is and how he justified continually deceiving virtually everyone in his life.  It details the impact of his crimes on his investors, many of whom had no idea their investments were even associated with Madoff, and the impact to his… [read more]
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The Uncertainty Paradox

(from Dimensional Fund Advisors’  Issue Briefs blog dated May 1, 2017. Dimensional Fund Advisors is a global investment manager dedicated to implementing the great ideas in finance by applying academic research to practical investing.)    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one. —Voltaire “The market hates uncertainty” has been a common enough saying in recent years, but how logical is it? There are many different aspects to uncertainty, some that can be measured and some that cannot. Uncertainty is an unchangeable condition of existence. As individuals, we can feel more or… [read more]
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Where Does It Go?

“I just can’t figure out where the money goes.  We should be doing well with our salaries, but we never seem to have anything left over at the end of the month.” My client’s frustration is shared by many other people I’ve worked with over the years, regardless of their age.   Knowing the amount we spend, and who and what we spend it on, is one of the key questions to unlocking financial security.  But it’s also the one we have the most trouble with, for many different reasons. One couple I worked with years… [read more]
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Wikipedia, Investing & Fake News

Last week I attended the Morningstar Investment Conference, a gathering of financial advisors, economists, fund managers and others from the world of financial services in Chicago, IL.  The two and a half days are full of breakout sessions around investing, practice management, etc.  I won’t bore you with those details which, while very exciting to us, can be a little dry to most. The keynote speakers, on the other hand, carried broader appeal.  We heard from Michael Lewis, best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, Flash Boys, The Big Short and his most… [read more]
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Bloom and Bust

Over Easter weekend, my family came into town from New Jersey.  I decided to take them to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which is one of my favorite places any day of the year but especially right now during Zoo Blooms.  I thought Good Friday would be a nice quiet day to visit but as it turned out everyone in the tri-state had the same idea.  I’ve never seen it so crowded, but with a 75-degree sunny day, it makes sense that people were out in droves to see the animals and the zoo’s… [read more]
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How Thin is Your Ice?

When something goes wrong, how do you respond? Last Thursday morning I read that opening line in Seth Godin’s blog, and I had to laugh. A few minutes earlier I’d received an email from the associate pastor of my church, letting me know the food and preparations we’d made to serve the congregation between services on Easter Sunday had to be cancelled due to flood damage.  Calls had to be made, food orders cancelled, and apologies delivered to the folks who had already prepared food and rearranged their schedules to help. It was by no… [read more]
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Investment Shock Absorbers

(from Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Outside the Flags blog by Jim Parker dated February 2017. Jim is a Vice President with DFA, leading the communications and marketing team in the firms’ Australian office.)    Ever ridden in a car with worn-out shock absorbers? Every bump is jarring, every corner stomach-churning, and every red light an excuse to assume the brace position. Owning an undiversified portfolio can trigger similar reactions. In a motor vehicle, the suspension system keeps the tires in contact with the road and provides a smooth ride for passengers by offsetting the forces of gravity,… [read more]
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Will it Matter?

A constant stream of breaking news on TV.  Our smartphones pinging us about that news alert, social media mention or new “friend.”  Weather alerts where we live and just about everywhere else on the globe.  Another reason to fret, worry or panic caused by real media reports, fake media reports, Presidential and not-so-presidential tweets. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the headlines, pings, dings and other constant demands for our attention.  At best, we wind up carrying around a low-grade stress headache every day.  At worst, it can cause much larger problems… [read more]
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